Holiness: An Interview with Jackie Hill Perry

Holiness: An Interview with Jackie Hill Perry

Jackie Hill Perry is one of the most sought after speakers and poets in the country. Her passion for God and using her pen to serve Him led her to write her most recent book: Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him. UrbanFaith sat down to discuss the new book with her. The interview has been edited for clarity. More information on the book is below.

 

If God is holy, then He can’t sin. If God can’t sin, then He can’t sin against you. If He can’t sin against you, shouldn’t that make Him the most trustworthy being there is?

Bestselling author Jackie Hill Perry, in her much-anticipated follow-up to Gay Girl, Good God, helps us find the reason we don’t trust God—we misunderstand His holiness.

In Holier Than Thou, Jackie walks us through Scripture, shaking the dust off of “holy” as we’ve come to know it and revealing it for what it really is: good news. In these pages, we will see that God is not like us. He is different. He is holy. And that’s exactly what makes Him trustworthy. As it turns out, God being “holier than thou” is actually the best news in the world, and it’s the key to trusting Him.

Devotion: Life has a louder voice

Devotion: Life has a louder voice

Scripture Reference

Matthew 28:1-10 NLT

1 Early on Sunday morning,[a] as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Death has a sting, a pain that can linger and never leave the soul. The death of Jesus by crucifixion was not a glamorous thing to behold. It was painful, tormenting, heartbreaking and shattering of any form of hope for those who were present. As we read the journey He took, the imagery that plays in our minds reveals how difficult this moment of destiny was for Jesus and His disciples.

When He died, I can imagine a pain of finality that may have been felt by those who loved and cared for Him. Losing someone dear, someone you love and care for is not easy. Losing them to a painful death can be heartbreaking and it can create a traumatic scar that never leaves.

It was important for Jesus to rise up again because the only voice that is capable of shutting down the loud voice of death is life. When He rose on the third day, the powerful testimony of His resurrection was a reminder for believers all over the world to believe, and hope again.

Have you dealt with situations that seem final to you? Are you plagued with thoughts of feeling that life is not worth living? Do you sense or feel that you are at the end of your road? If your answer is yes to any of those questions, you need to fight to live. If you need help, you can get it.

Living and moving conscious of daily decisions that push you to choose better, act wiser, and try for the best takes courage and sometimes can be a battle of the will. However, life has a louder voice than death. The dead cannot breathe air or experience moments.

Do not allow the finality of circumstances, trials, or tribulations make you feel as though life is not fair or worth it. You matter, and your presence in this life, living and learning and growing allows you to make a greater impact than being dead and in the grave. Fight for your dreams, push yourself to achieve the best that you can in this lifetime and believe God to make your life worth living for, because it is.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for what you did for me through love, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. I acknowledge the power of the cross and the reminder that you desire for me to live. Help me today to push myself to live life with joy as Jesus died for me to be filled with peace and joy. Teach me how to maximize my days, weeks and months with what matters, and show me how to use my time here on earth wisely. I desire to live a fulfilled life, and I trust you that you will show me how to.

 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Holy Saturday-A Reflection

Yesterday, churches around the nation gathered in person and virtually to commemorate the death and murder of Jesus. What a way to die, executed with his boys nowhere around, with the exception of John who he left in the care of his mother. He died in front of his mother. All of these people who loved Jesus, whether at the cross or not, had to live with the fact that they are now living in the world with a dead Jesus. We know now, because of history, that this part is an ongoing story, but even this part has a finality to it. Death is like that. Death is part of the process of living this life, and grief is its own beast of a complicated companion that comes with doing life with someone. These people had to grieve Jesus. God, the Father, had to watch his Son die. God lost His Son. Can you imagine it?

Who were your ones? Who are the people you love and loved so deeply, that your history is now split between before this person and after this person? Did you cry? Do you still cry? How did the gift that is grief show up for you? I believe in our liturgical imaginations, we have created services for almost every other day of Holy Week to commemorate, except for Saturday, because we just don’t know how to sit in grief. Grief can be an all consuming force to deal with, but grief is the price we pay for love, and they were loved. Sunday will get here in its own time, but we should take a page out of the Jesus story in this way too. There’s a reason that grief makes the story.

Theologians will debate about what He’s doing during this time, and the possibility of Him snatching the keys of hell and the people that will rise with him. What we know is that the people left on this side of the river Jordan had to grieve. And that alone is the gift here. The gift is frankly permission to grieve, and to feel feelings. It’s an invitation to learn how to sit in our Satur….sadder-days. It’s an invitation to not run and rush through the grief, but to trust God to get in the grief with you, since God knows what it’s like to live with the loss too. May we all learn how to be still on sadder-days, and hold in tension that this ongoing story, just with the added character of grief.

Holy Tuesday Devotional

Holy Tuesday Devotional

Matthew 21: 18-46

When we left off yesterday, Jesus had committed destruction of property by flipping over tables of transaction and exploitation and uprooting the things that shifted His Father’s house from being relational and full of salvation. That left us to consider what tables we need to flip over, beginning with some of the ones in our hearts. What a mighty God we serve!

We pick up today with Jesus who is heading to the temple, and starts off the morning cursing a fig tree, condemning it saying it would never produce again. While we can argue about how harsh this is or isn’t, what is irrefutable is that the tree wasn’t doing its job, and Jesus had enough. And it seems as though, because He is headed to the temple, He’s not going to be stopped by the trees that aren’t doing their job. He already dealt with that yesterday, and is about to encounter it again.

When Jesus arrives at the temple, He attracts a crowd because, well, He’s Jesus. The crowd He attracts meets Him on the temple floor, and Matthew’s Gospel starts off this encounter with the authorities questioning his authority. Those who are systematically in places of authority and power want to know who or what validates Jesus as an authority figure. One could argue that there is an issue here of will. Because the Pharisees might’ve had the authority, but Jesus Christ, who is amongst the people, has the power. It’s a dangerous world when systemic authority is threatened by the people who have been empowered. I am more than sure that if we look at lived experiences Jesus shows us that just because you have authority, doesn’t mean you have power. Our faith is one that often reminds us that human-given authority is no match for God-given authority. And Jesus responds with a question, that frankly the only way it can be reconciled is with a divine answer.

We then pick-up Jesus who is engaging in what I refer to as the ultimate roasting session. He keeps sharing these parables about working in the vineyard, AND the treatment of the workers. He likens himself as the son of God, to a servant, a worker in the vineyard, and a slave. He keeps reinforcing that He is with the marginalized least of these. Thanks be to God for a savior who constantly positions himself to be for, with, and by the people. It is reassurance to us that no matter who you are, as long as you’re doing your work in the vineyard, serving the kingdom, Jesus says that you’ll inherit the kingdom of God. The Pharisees don’t like this, much like many modern authority figures, and are plotting to murder him. But if the words of Jesus be true: for Himself, for the people, and for us; no plot, no plan, no attack, no assassination, can stop the work of the people. Nothing can negate that we shall inherit the kingdom of God. Get to and keep to your work. Even if you don’t have authority, you always have the power to do your work in the vineyard. 

This week isn’t over, and we have a few more lessons to learn, but today, think about what it means to do your work anyhow. After all, Friday soon come….

Surprise deliverance: When Freedom Shows Up

Surprise deliverance: When Freedom Shows Up

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 NLT

21 As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”

4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, 

5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem,

    ‘Look, your King is coming to you.

He is humble, riding on a donkey—

    riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. 

8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God for the Son of David!

    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

    Praise God in highest heaven!”

10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

This story is very powerful, inspiring, and intriguing. As Jesus was preparing Himself for the very painful journey of the cross that was ahead of Him, He performs an act that reveals His thoughtfulness, intentionality, and commitment to destiny.

In Bethphage, there was a village that had a donkey and its foal that mattered to Jesus. A donkey is an animal that is symbolically and literally a beast that bears burdens. Donkeys can carry heavy loads and tread on difficult paths while being submitted to their owners.

  • Jesus picked an animal that was used to carry and bear burdens for people as a symbol that He had come to bear the burdens for humanity. As the disciples placed their cloaks on the donkey and its foal for Jesus to sit on, He was reminding us that He was mantled and graced for this heavy and great burden ahead of Him.

 

  • The donkey and foal were tied up and may not have known what was going to happen to them in the future, but Jesus had a plan. He was going to liberate both of them, and no one was going to get in the way of it. He specifically gave the disciples instructions, in case someone questioned them. Their response was to say “The Lord has need of them, and He will send them right away”.

 

  1. If Jesus can incorporate an animal in the story of redemption to symbolize how attentive He is to the details of destiny fulfillment, why are you questioning the details that God keeps unveiling in your life about how much He wants to use you?

 

  1. Imagine if the donkey and the foal resisted and kicked the disciples causing them to come back empty handed. Of course Jesus would have found an alternative, but the donkey and its foal would have never known the honor of deliverance from a Savior who understands and feels the weight of carrying heavy burdens.

 

The donkey and its foal walked on roads covered with cloaks and branches from trees as the crowd honored Jesus. They could not honor Jesus without honoring the donkey and the foal that were with Him. Do not resist the moment Jesus calls for you. His desire is to bestow love and grace on you. He is not one to hide you, but desires to walk with you through the journey, and ensure honor is bestowed upon you.

This week, think about the moments Jesus has pulled on you whether through prayer, His word, or a decision that He asked you to make. Why have you not obeyed? What expression of love from Jesus are you blocking when you resist Him? Isn’t it time to try pure freedom and experience what it feels like to have a Savior who understands and loves you? A Savior who has the power to loose you from every hold and bondage? He will not leave you there, but will walk with you until you fulfil the prophetic word He has spoken over your life.

If Jesus cared about a donkey and its foal, give yourself some credit and acknowledge He cares and has great plans for you. It is not a matter of if He is able, it is all about when you yield and obey His call. He is a loving Savior with open arms who desires to bless you and deliver you, to walk through this life with you in liberty and grace. It is time to answer Jesus. He has been calling for you for a while.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Today I am grateful for your kind heart, your intentionality, and ability to plan ahead with my life in mind. A lot of times, I behave as though you do not know me, but you do. Nothing changes your mind about me. Help me to see myself from the perspective of love that you have for me. Incline my ear to be sensitive to your calling. Forgive me for when I have resisted you because of fears that who I was or what I have done is too much for you. You have come to lift up every burden in my life.

I yield to you and desire to receive the honor of walking in freedom with you. This is my portion and I choose to walk in it by faith.

In Jesus Name,

Amen